To the Editor:
Your article about the TV-viewing habits of Yale undergrads left a bad taste in my mouth. The writer’s observation that, while watching television, Yale students take “a time out to join the masses,” could not have summed up his most disturbing discovery any better. Based on the things Yale students told him, which reflect a snotty and sadistic dismissal of not just American television, but also of the culture and people that surround Yale and fan out to comprise America at large, it will be surprising if any of these students ever take more than “a time out” for people who are different than they are.
What I find most striking is that students are able to identify deep problems in our culture, problems having to do with gender roles and class stereotypes in programs like “Maury Povich” or “America’s Next Top Model,” and yet choose to mock and to denigrate the people trapped by these problems before any other response.
My ultimate disappointment with these students is not that they are not activists or politicians but rather that their comments reveal a lack of interest in even being citizens. The article offers a portrait of Yale students utterly embarrassed to find themselves capable of enjoying the same entertainment as the rest of the country. Everything they enjoy must be “justified” as a “guilty pleasure” and compartmentalized away as a “low-brow” moment that bears no relation to the rest of their lives.
As a Yale graduate, I’m more embarrassed and put off by this article than I’ve ever been by television.
Alejandra O’Leary ’04
Nov. 10, 2004